Six people were killed and serious damage caused by a US missile strike on a Syrian air base in the centre of the country early Friday, Syria’s army said.
“At 3:42 am (0042 GMT) the United States carried out a flagrant aggression with missiles against one of our airbases in the central region, killing six people and wounding a number of others, and causing significant damage,” a spokesman said, reading from a statement on state television.
He did not specify whether the casualties were civilian or military, and gave no further details on the damage caused by the attack on the Shayrat Airfield in Homs province.
The strike was the first direct US military action against President Bashar al-Assad since the start of Syria’s war in March 2011.
It came after a suspected chemical attack against a rebel-held town that killed at least 86 people and left dozens more suffering convulsions, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.
Syria’s government and army denied any use of chemical weapons or involvement in the incident.
“The high command of the army and armed forces confirms that its response will be further determination to pursue its national duty in the defence of the Syrian people and to crush terrorism wherever it is,” the statement added.
It accused Washington of being allied with jihadist groups like the Islamic State group, and said it was seeking to “justify this aggression” by pointing the finger at Damascus for the suspected chemical attack “without knowing the truth”.
Meanwhile Germany said on Friday the US air strike on a Syrian airbase was “understandable”.
“The fact that the United States has now reacted with a strike against military sites of the Assad regime, from which this cruel war crime was perpetrated, is understandable,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.
“It was difficult to bear that the UN Security Council was unable to clearly and unequivocally respond to the barbaric use of chemical weapons against innocent people in Syria.
“Poison gas is an internationally outlawed weapon. On this the world community agrees,” added the statement, released while Gabriel and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault were visiting the West African country of Mali.
“As understandable as the US military strike against the military infrastructure was after the failure of the UN Security Council, it is now crucial to launch a joint peace effort under the umbrella of the UN.
“We must now fully support the work of the United Nations to achieve a political solution to the civil war.
“Only a new and democratic Syria will bring lasting peace,” he added, stressing that Europe and Germany supported such an outcome.
“The terrible events of the last few days show that the regional parties to the conflict as well as the US and Russia are needed for this.”